Adapting to a virtual environment comes with challenges – but technology can also bring huge benefits when supporting young people in these uncertain times.
It can have a hugely positive effect on their mental health, helping them feel connected to others, maintain some sense of normality and access support when needed.
It’s crucial anyone communicating with young people to support their DofE at this time operates under best practice guidelines and makes sure young people’s safety and wellbeing is the priority at all time.
To help you do this, we have developed a practical guide for remote mentoring relationships, in partnership with The Diana Award and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. Please read and share this with any colleagues who may find it useful.
Your organisation will have its own digital safeguarding guidelines which you should follow as always – this guide is intended to supplement these existing policies, rather than to replace them.
Since the coronavirus outbreak started, the health of everyone involved in the DofE has been, and remains, the most important thing to us and must be the primary consideration of the DofE network.
We urge everyone involved in running the DofE, our participants, parents and carers to continue to monitor and follow Government advice. All DofE Managers, Leaders and other adult volunteers should also follow any policies and procedures governing their own organisation’s response to COVID-19.
It’s clear the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting – and we want to support our Licensed Organisations to recognise young people’s achievements and help as many as possible achieve their Award. You can read more about the initiatives and flexibilities we’ve introduced, and find practical advice, activity ideas and information on our DofE With A Difference hub.
Yes, very much so. Of course, we’ve had to quickly adapt how we do some things in order to reflect the current situation. But we’re determined that young people shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to achieve their Award because of coronavirus.
Our staff will continue to support Licensed Organisations, Approved Activity Providers and other partners to carry on delivering the programme in a different way over the next year. Our Operations Officers will stay in close contact with all DofE Managers to talk about how we can help them to support participants at this difficult time.
Everyone needs to follow Government advice with regard to managing the spread of the virus and their own health. The Government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage is frequently updated as things develop, so please check it regularly. The NHS advice is also frequently updated.
There are lots of ways in which participants can carry on with their DofE programmes while at home – click here for more details.
Your health is the most important thing and you must make sure that you follow all of the advice being issued by the Government.
As a DofE Leader, you’ll be aware of what plans your Licensed Organisation has in place to deal with your absence – inform your LO so that these plans can be actioned.
Yes, this is fine. DofE programmes allow young people to change from one activity to another at any point. In these unique circumstances, it’s likely that many participants will choose to do this, and we’re sharing ideas on how young people can safely carry on with elements of their DofE programme here.
Participants will need to seek approval from their Leader before starting their new activities.
Yes. We’re sharing activity ideas here. If there are ideas that are working particularly well for participants in your community, please do share them with your DofE Operations Officer and via social media using the hashtag #DofEwithadifference.
Yes. Under existing DofE rules, participants can be granted a period of time in which to complete their DofE after their 25th birthday if they need it because of illness or other circumstances. Leaders should feel empowered to grant such extensions to participants affected by coronavirus immediately and can get an extension granted in eDofE by contacting the relevant DofE Region or Country Office.
No, there is no need to notify the DofE should a participant be diagnosed with coronavirus. However, tell your Licensed Organisation so that appropriate steps can be put in place to manage the situation.
Yes, you can still buy Welcome Packs in eDofE and allocate the accompanying participation places to young people as always.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact on the lives of young people, affecting their studies, social lives, work and future prospects. Doing a DofE programme can give them structure, focus and purpose that are vital for their mental and physical wellbeing.
Welcome Packs are still being despatched every two weeks to participants who enter their personal details on eDofE for the first time, or start a new Award level.
Although activities for all levels are normally done for one hour per week (and in the current circumstances this may help with establishing routine), there are some activities which better completed by doing them for a longer time per session, but less often. This could be one day a month, or a couple of hours every other week.
The activity must still be spread across the number of months the participant has chosen to spend on that section, and the hours must be at least the same as doing it weekly (or more!)
For example, with prior agreement from their DofE Leader, a participant doing a six month Volunteering section for Silver starting in April 2020 could request to do a minimum of a day each month (at least four to six hours) until their earliest completion date – which in this case would be October 2020.
In order to enable participants to complete their Expedition section (and their Award), you might like to consider running expeditions over the next academic year that include pupils who were in Years 11 or 13 – or S4, S5 and S6 in Scotland – but have since left the school. Schools do not require an AALA licence if a school leaver is joining them for a postponed expedition either in the autumn or next summer. Before you go ahead, you would need to check the following;
– Confirm with your Head Teacher / Licence signatory (if DLC) or DofE Manager and Licence Signatory (if OA) that young people no longer on the school roll would be covered by your insurance provider for DofE expeditions.
– Confirm with your Head Teacher / Licence signatory (if DLC) or DofE Manager and Licence Signatory (if OA) that there are no implications around safeguarding for your organisation if young people not on roll are integrated with those remaining on roll.
– That a fair process is in place ensuring that they would access the expedition under the same terms as your current participants.
– Your licence requests that you have the permission from the Region/Country Director. The DofE would support this variation to your licence but we would ask that you notify the Regional/Country Office in advance for our records. Be aware that this would only apply to pupils who used to be on your school roll. You couldn’t include pupils from another school/college.
If they choose to, there are many other options open to participants who would like to continue their DofE and achieve their Award in the future. They can participate at their college or university, an open centre, a youth organisation such as the Scouts or Girlguiding or through work, if their employer offers the DofE. If they are aged 18-23, they can also do their Gold DofE online and independently through DofE Direct.